Category: Weird Articles
Published on Friday, 01 August 2014 00:00
Have you ever felt like reclining in the comfort of a fat man’s belly? Well now you can without the awkwardness of actually straddling a fat man’s gut! Gigi Barker, a British furniture designer and owner of Studio 9191, has come up with a new range of seating that looks, feels and even smells a lot like the human body. The seats are designed to mimic bulbous, podgy human flesh. And Gigi’s customers have admitted that as weird as they are, they are actually quite comfortable.
Although the seats are made of leather – the closest texture to human skin – they are so oddly shaped that it is hard to distinguish what inspired them. That unrecognizable feature is exactly what Gigi hoped to achieve with the project she called “A Body of Skin”.
Through the project, Gigi wanted to explore people’s reactions to furniture that is strangely familiar to the sight, smell and touch, but not recognizable. “That made the viewers question how to interact with the shapes and to form their own conclusions,” she said.
Gigi achieved the unique shapes by tracing the outline of an anonymous man’s midriff as he was seated. She studied his figure in detail and developed sketches of how she wanted her furniture to look. “I abstracted the shapes of his form so as to remove some of the immediacy of such a literal representation and allow the viewer to form their own conclusions,” she said.
When she finally made up her mind about the form she was going for, she first made small models out of clay. When the styling was finalized, she then blew up the shapes to full size, cast in silicone. Silicone, Gigi explained, has the right sensory impact, and it “reacts to our bodies, matching our body temperature as well – perfect for soothing a crying baby”.
She also thought that to go with the whole experience, the furniture should smell like what human skin smells like. So she also impregnated the material with pheromones and aftershave, to create a “full sensorial experience, which really immersed the viewer”.
For the finishing touches, Gigi laid molding leather over the silicone form with the suede section facing up, to complete the perfect illusion. “It is subtler in its visual impact due to our familiarity with the material,” she said. “Despite this, it is literally a piece of skin removed from a body and not a representation of the material.”
The final collection consists of a voluptuous seat formed from two rounded elements, and a plump footstool. Both pieces are available in different shades, to imitate the various colors of the human skin. “I hand-made all the pieces myself, creating the initial sculptural shapes in the studio and then molding the leather in my bathtub at home,” Gigi explained.
Wait, why was she molding leather is her bathroom?
If you have ever felt silicone before, you would know how uncanny it’s like to human skin. So sitting on a rounded stool covered entirely in silicone will make you feel like you are sitting on Kim Kardashian’s sumo ass, or Nicki Minaj’s one, whichever floats your boat. Despite how revolting it sounds, the human stools are really popular. All of Gigi’s seats on display at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design have already been snatched up by intrigued buyers. She is currently talking with retailers about making more and reaching out to the consumer market.
These seats are especially popular with children for some odd reason. “Children have been one of the most interesting demographics in relation to the work,” said Gigi. “Without any of the hangups we later develop, they are free to truly explore and interact with the work.”
“Work regarding the human body is very personal and we all have a very immediate reaction to it so the reactions have reflected this,” she added. Her goal is to get people to make a physical connection with the chair, and to think about their own relationship and comfort level with human skin. “I have my own personal relationship with it, which is based on my own personal history. Just as someone else will. I think this project is more about the people and the bodies rather than the skin itself.”
When the collection hits the mass market, the fleshy stool will be priced at £440 (approx. SGD$930) and the large chair will be £1,500 (approx. SGD$3,160). Gigi plans to introduce more pieces into the collection and she’s currently collaborating with fashion designers and architects to see what else the material could be used for. She even used it to make a dress that she wore on the opening night of her show. The Silence of the Lambs, anyone?